tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC October 4, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PDT
acts, continues. it's thursday, october 4th, and this is "now." joining me today, msnbc political analyst and georgetown university professor, he of the golden throat, michael eric dyson. nbc news political analyst, former pennsylvania governor, and the current governor of "now," ed rendell, co-host of today and nbc news chief legal correspondent savannah guthrie and mr. sunday morning himself, hugo lindgren. six months, 12 days after governor romney senior adviser forecasted this -- >> hit a reset button for the fall campaign. everything changes. it's like an etch a sketch. you can shake it up and we start all over again. >> the magical erasure has finally begun. a new mitt romney took the stage last night, confident, polished
and apparently possessed of entirely different policies. exhibit a, the 20% across the board tax cut that is estimated to cost taxpayers $4.8 trillion. >> governor romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut on top of the extension of the bush tax cuts. >> first, i don't have a $5 trillion tax cut. i don't have a tax cut of the scale that you're talking. no economist can say mitt romney's tax plan adds 5 trillion. about i say i will not add to the deficit with my tax plan. >> romney never actually said there would be a 20% tax cut? >> i'm going to lower rates across the board for all americans by 20%. i want a 20% across the board reduction in taxes. the individual marginal tax rate 20% across the board. the top rate, for instance, would go from 35 to 28, middle rates would come down by 20% as well, all rates come down. >> president obama was just as surprised. >> well, for 18 months he's been
running on this tax plan. and now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big, bold idea is never mind. >> but the etch a sketching did not stop there. governor romney who once believed financial regulation was hurting the economy -- >> dodd frank it's called, has not helped enterprise get going, it's slowed it down. >> now seems to be a supporter of wall street regulation. >> want to repeal dodd/frank? >> and replace it. we're not going to get rid of regulation. some parts of dodd/frank that make all of the sense in the world. >> and back in june, romney mocked the president's crazy ideas about needing more teachers for the nation's classrooms. >> he says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. did he not get the mess naj wisconsin? the american people did. >> last night romney became a crusader for -- wait for it -- teachers. >> i love great schools.
massachusetts, our schools are ranged number one of all 50 states. and the key to great schools, great teachers. so i reject the idea that i don't believe in great teachers or more teachers. >> finally, while repealing obama care has been more mitt romney his celebrated cause, the thing he'll do on day one of his presidency -- >> by the number one cut obama care. if i'm president i'll repeal obama care. if i'm president of the united states i will repeal obama care for a lot of reasons. >> last night, much of obama care didn't actually seem all that bad. >> let's let the governor explain what you would do if obama care is repealed. how would you replace it? >> actually it's a lengthy description but, number one, preexisting conditions are covered under my plan. number two, young people are able to stay on their family plan. >> what a machine, the etch a sketch. but one question for governor romney -- h how do you draw battle lines if they're all going to be dotted?
where do you stand? >> i can't figure it out. >> well, you know walls of obfuscation, my friend. the question is, can romney make this pivot, which seem to be towards the center at this point in the game, and win over independent voters? >> look, there are very few really big moments in campaign. last night was one of those moments. there are a lot of people who have not been watching as much tape as your producers apparently have. give romney his due. he had a very compelling night. he crisply delivered his points. he was conversational. he had command of the policy and the facts. and it's up to president obama now to put him to where his record and say, wait a minute, that's not what you stand for, and i think we did see the president do some of that last night. but for romney, i mean, i don't know if it's a pivot to the center or not. there's no question about the fact that he came out there and probably was the best romney he could be. i think a lot of republicans today are saying, where has this guy been all this time?
a lot of democrats say, where did our guy go? >> to that point, governor, daniel henninger, the romney reboot arrives. we may wonder until he waited now to liberate the real mitt. five weeks from election day that question is beside the point and behind us. this is the candidate and he proved in denver to be the candidate. >> savannah's right. you've got to draw the line on perception and what people get this early out of the debate and substance. and the first take is always what people get out of it. governor romney was engaged. henergetic. he was, as savannah said, in command of the facts, personalable. for some reason the president was clearly off his game, looked aknow ed to be there, kept looking at his notes. he didn't look at the camera. he failed debate 101, what we tell fledgling candidates, always look at camera, particularly when delivering your closing. he was delivering his closing to jim lehrer, not the american people.
it was a stunning but i think the key now for the obama campaign is not to panic. remember, walter mondale beat reagan in the first debate, went from 18 points down to 4 or 5 down, and wound up losing 49 states. don't panic. stay on message. put surrogates out there to rebut the things that he talked about in your opening. but don't put david axelrod and david plouffe out. >> he's a little too late on that one. >> i'm saying from now. they're very good guys, they're smart, but they're in the campaign. put ow elected officials, put out deval patrick. put out jennifer granholm and have them deliver the message. >> we are going to talk a lot about style and substance, and the president and what he did and did not do last night. but in terms of the response to mitt romney, i think part of the problem was nobody was expecting mitt romney to say things like, there's no $5 trillion debt to
walk away from the tax cut, something he's been hammering for quite a while, em brabracin obama care, sand shifting under everyone's feet. >> no doubt it was unexpected but it was a fat pitch over the plate. >> absolutely. >> unexpected but great. now strike it. really, though? i mean like you can go hip-hop, you can go dr. evil? whatever you've got to do, you've got say something, you've got to respond. look, the president is extraordinary, as governor rendell said. he probably missed some of the lessons that his own past has taught him about speaking to people, being vibrant. mitt romney was a bully. the act of bullying last night was uncontested. he was holding him down, cutting his hair, and sunning him. in the hood they call him sunning him. >> i don't think he was a bully last night. i didn't see that. >> oh. >> i don't think he came across as a bully. look what he did to jim lehrer.
>> he bullied. >> jim lehrer got his hair cut last night. >> look at his demeanor. the whole -- i think it was clear to me that the president -- they went in there with a lot of confidence. they played not to lose. they also played -- he overcorrected to the downside. i have to believe the campaign is surprised. >> what happens in football and basketball when you have a big lead and play not to lose the lead? you lose the lead. >> here's the thing. i think it was a good night for romney, bad night for obama. but the real thing is, it is this really start of a countertrend or an anomalous event. >> that's the big thing. there's no question that obama can easily get through this and get over this. >> let me make two points. the first is -- >> you are the host. >> they say, although sometimes -- >> new york the jim lehrer of today's discussion. >> i'm going to shrink down in my chair. i'm going to come back from that, governor. what i will say is, you know, in terms of this debate, i found one part of it, which was really
refreshing, it was pretty wonky. it was pretty substantive. >> the b.s. wonk. >> what's that? >> b.s. wonk. >> mitt romney was floating policies out there -- >> united states has the best health outcomes in the world? >> it was not -- that's it, it was not a lot of one-liners and zingers. >> a couple of good one-liners. people forgot. i've been in business for 25 years, i have no idea what you're talking about, that's pretty good. >> i need to consult with my accountant is not -- >> another softball. >> i want to know what you think. in terms of moving voters, does the american public watch that? there were half an hour of referencing dodd/frank, some people don't know what dodd/frank is. some people may think that's a guy named dodd frank. >> i thought the same thing. there were a couple -- the same with bowles-simpson. long discussions were, i guess, music to ears of dorks like us. if you're a regular person --
>> not music to my ears. >> -- living your wife, a persuadable voter do you know what the conversation is? that's why the style points matter. >> look what happens, every time we have debate season, out come the stories that talk about the big moments in debate history. there really are five. at the end of the day, you have to go back to the '60s to get to the big moments, right? we can all name them. all of them except for ford saying that poland didn't need to be liberated or whatever, they're all on style, not substance, which is why it matters what happened last night. >> it's not style, it's emotional. it's feeling. and i think that that's the -- that's the part about obama that i thought was the most lacking. it wasn't about -- yes, it was wonky, got into the weeds of details and didn't seem to have his way out of it. it was the way he said it than how. john heilemann made a good point, tweeted about the consultants say watch with
saundoff. there was in the body language, in the way they engaged, it was -- >> neither connected to the material or the moment. then you have the contrast of mitt romney who seemed loose and in the moment. >> he had the least to lose. mitt romney comes into the game, so to speak, not expected to do well, back against the wall, and therefore he's free to throw darts, you know, and see what lands. but the point is this as well, obama has just been subject to the fox news treatment of angry black man again. le a lest we pretend, i can't come off too vigorous became it will be like i'm an angry black man, mitt romney will be a vigorously engaged man able to play to his strengths. >> we're going to unpack that thesis of the angry black man and what the president did or did not do. we have to go to break. we have to let savannah go. >> it's dinner time for me.
its cocktail hour for nbc's savannah guthrie. >> coming up, we'll get into governor romney's tax plan disco, what a difference a day makes. first president obama's hits and misses. eric michael dyson. weighing in on that. [ female announcer ] food, meet flavor. flavor, meet food. it's time for swanson flavor boost. concentrated broth in easy to use packets. mix it into skillet dishes, for an instant dose of... hell-o! [ female announcer ] get recipes at flavorboost.com.
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testla i have a friend who says you don't just pick winners and losers you pick losers. i apologize, mr. president. i use that term with all respect. >> i like it. >> good. okay, good. so i'll get rid of that. >> several points last night, president obama's strategy seemed to be grin and bear it. smiling as governor romney cut into his record. asked why the president wasn't more aggressive, why no mention of romney's infamous 47% comments, maryland governor martin o'malley said he's up by a decent margin so he took a do no harm approach to his campaign. >> ridiculous! >> joining the panel now, ankh somewhere managing editor of dan rather reports on access tv, the legendary dan rather. great to have you on the program mr. rather. as a seasoned newsman what you make of the president's performance last night. >> very curious. very puzzling. let's state it for what it is, he got his clock cleaned new
york other way to put it. he came in with the pro football players call prevent defense, in basketball it's four corners, fight the clock, pass the ball. and it didn't work. what puzzled me the most is he had opening after opening to dispute what the governor was saying, compared to what he said before, didn't take any of the openings. i'm really puzzled by his performance. he seemed aloof. he'd rather be in a dentist chair than where he was and that translates to body language and facial expressions. i just don't -- can't say what happened to him. all credit to governor romney. got to give him credit. he prepared well. he's in command of what he had. now, question is, does it make a difference? my guess is that it may make some difference. the historical record shows, particularly with first debates when there's more than one, the challenger does well, gets a bump up in a point and a half, two points in the polls. i think this time it may be
different. i'll say this, i'm not saying that barack obama's going to lose. but if he loses, we'll look back on last night as the night the tide turned. >> governor rendell, you've been very animated about your thoughts on the president's performance last night. you know, to mr. rather's point, no mention of bain, no mention of offshore tax havens, no mention of the 47%. one point romney even -- he even tees up the phrase, he says, look, where you put your money is very reflective of the kind of person you are, and president obama just didn't even -- didn't take it up. why -- the do no harm approach, that is what it is. >> exactly right. this wasn't an accident. first of all, to go back to what hugo said before, if you're an incumbent running for re-election, you've got to feel proud of what you did under tough circumstances. there was none of that pride, there was none of that passion. we did this, we did that, you know? there's been 31 straight months of job creation, you know?
the american people, we've got increasing pell grants so a million more kids can go to school, none of that fire and passion. two they clearly adopted a strategy they weren't going to punch back, the nice guy strategy, four corners strategy. i preet, terepeat, teams in bas and football, that stall away the game, lose their leads. >> can't play four corners anymore in basketball. >> shot clock. >> the other word, what you're talking about, is stature. i actually think the president's idea of going in, not getting drawn into a brawl is a good one. but i think he needed to convey the stature of the office. it's the incumbent's advantage, stature of the offense. he's the president. you didn't get that feeling. he looked bored, he looked peeved. and the challenger's basic advantage is they get to make great claim house they would do better, leap the washington monument in a single bound, do all of this stuff.
that's what mitt brought. he brought it. >> it's even more than that. >> more than stature. >> more than stature. people want to see a level of passion and they wanted to see the president say, look, we've done good things under difficult circumstances. we brought back the auto industry. we never even heard about the auto bailouts. >> he's made some of the points on the stump. he's made some of the points on the stump. >> not going to count it. >> but not when it only counted. >> 60 million people. >> he's talked about the 47%, not ad nauseam but multiple times in last two weeks. >> i think the strategic approach to look presidential creeded a certain kind of optical authority. optics matter, how you look, what you look at, what you look like play a role here and mitt romney, when i said bullying, what i meant by that is that he's, you know, dealing with anger management, which he did with jim lehrer very well. >> anger management. >> exactly. obama had 99 problems and mitt was the major one, and the
inability to contain him by saying, look, being presidential is like, son, that's theory, let me tell you what the practice is. you're talking about, first of all, you're lying or you're d disassembling or disingenuous or you're telling a bold face reality here. so you've got to -- i've got to believe this, i go back to this, i know governor rendell, my former governor in pennsylvania, here's the reality, obama doesn't have the latitude that white guys who speak with vigor do. i'm not suggesting he can't have passion. i'm not suggesting his stylistic approach, which he's been noted for as governor rendell indicated all of that fox news weighs on him. >> let me -- let me talk did. >> avery good point. he can't get angry but he can get proud. >> no doubt. >> given what happened there, you can't blame the referee, jim lehrer, he didn't have his best night. you can't blame matter of anger and race. he lost. he's got to face that.
>> it's not about blaming. it's about accounting for in a way -- >> i want to talk about one moment in particular. and that's the end of the debate, right? everybody knows they're going to have a closing statement. rendell's head in his hands. >> glass of the water. >> this is the president's and mitt romney's closing remarks. they knew they were going to have to do this. presumably they planned these remarks. this is what they said. >> you know, four years ago, i said that i'm not a perfect man and i wouldn't be a perfect president, and that's probably a promise governor romney thinks that i've kept. but i'd promise identify every date on behalf of the american people. >> no question in my mind if the president were re-elected you'll continue to see a middle class squeeze, with incomes going down and prices going up. >> i want to focus first on the president. it was shocking to me that the sort of closing sentiment is, i'm not a perfect man and some
folks say i wouldn't be a perfect man and i wouldn't be a perfect president and that's probably a promise governor romney thinks. what a defeatist sentiment. >> governor rendell made this early on, i can't believe that's as experienced as president obama didn't do it president obama in closing remarks didn't talk to the people in the living room, everybody knows look at the camera, deliver to people in the living room. president obama's looking off. mitt romney did it the right way. >> right way. >> he looked at the camera, looks you in the eye, tells you what he thinks. >> he wasn't being nice. >> no. >> the thing that is obama -- i hate to say, the politics of niceness, you're admitting your opponent has legitimate points. . it's not great in an american society where stylistic connection means you're willing to defend your point with a pointed passion but also to argue with the other guy. mitt romney was there saying i'm give nothing quarter. he admitted obama did something halfway right the rest of the time he was condescending.
i have five sons, you might as well be the sixth, i'm going to tell you what you're doing wrong. there was no opposition, quite disturbing. >> governor romney seized moment to speak to independent swing voters in the swing states time after time. you can tell it was practiced, prepared, i know what this debate's. this will be the decisive part of the electorate. each time he spoke to that, those who can still be swayed, as my friend mack murphy says, 46%, 48% of the electorate will vote republican if it's a cement bag with "r" on it, 46%, 48% will vote for a cement bag with a "d" on. you're concentrating on voters who may not have their minds made up. governor romney did a wonderful job of that and president obama did a poor job. >> it is worth noting, though, that the policies that mitt romney has been embracing thus far have not exactly been independent swing voter-minded policies. we'll talk about that next, just the facts.
governor romney scored points for style last night. substance of his remarks was a different story entirely. a full audit of romney's tax plan just ahead next on "now." or get the yard ready for cool an energy weather?n to size? the answer? a lot less. the great american fix-up is going on now... ...with new projects every week and big savings every day. so you can do what needs to be done. today. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. right now, owens corning ecotouch attik insulation is only $11.87 a roll. but kate -- still looks like...kate. nice'n easy with colorblend technology gives expert highlights and lowlights. for color that's true to you. i don't know how she does it. with nice'n easy,
check out the latest collection of snacks from lean cuisine. creamy spinach artichoke dip, crispy garlic chicken spring rolls. they're this season's must-have accessory. lean cuisine. be culinary chic. the two candidates provides plenty of fodder for fact checkers last night, claiming they'd have doubled, reduced, cut, fixed, supported any number of different programs and ideas on taxes, the deficit spending, health care and job. one of biggest back and forth centered around rorm's proposal for 20% across the board tax cut projected by the center for budget and policy priorities costing $5 trillion over ten which romney insisted would not add a dime to the deficit. >> i'm not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce the revenues going to the
government. my number one principle is, no tax cut that adds to the deaf. underline that. no tax cut that adds to the deficit. >> rorm's mney's insistence his cut is revenue neutral. monday he floated one idea to a local denver tv station. >> you could do something, for instance, as an option, you could say everybody's going to get up to a $17,000 deduction and use your charitable deduction, home mortgage deduction or others, health care deduction and fill that bucket if you will, $17,000 bucket, higher income people might have a lower number. >> last night romney ditched the $17,000 bucket and suggested he might make up a number. >> one of the various ways to bring down deductions, a single number, make up a number, 25,000, 50,000. >> yes, make up a number. anyway, who cares about specifics? or facts for that matter? instead, romney tried to remind voters about the president's
broken promises. >> the president said he'd cut the deficit in half. unfortunately he doubled it the president did say he would cut the deficit in half -- >> i'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office. >> that clearly didn't happen. but did the president double it? according to the congressional budget office the deficit is projected to decrease, decrease, from $1.4 trillion in 2009 that would be when obama took office to $1.1 trillion in 2012. arithmetic is never mitt romney's strong suit. $300 million decrease is not the same as $1.4 million increase at least according to the law of mathematics on planet earth. hugo, this is the question, right? >> you're not going to ask me a math question? >> no. i know what the strong suits at this table are. but you know, there is -- we've talked about the wall of obfuscation. we've spent some time in this
program talk about style over substance. can mitt romney get away with just saying this stuff? there's an article, cover story in "time" magazine saying the american public is increasingly less and less concerned about facts. >> i guess that's the big we'll see here. i think that the -- as some commentators noted, there's a lot of fodder in there for nice ads for the obama campaign to drive a truck through some of these ambiguities, vaguenesses, misstatements, whatever they are, and i guess we'll see that. i -- you know, again, i think the big thing is how he says it. he seemed nimble on his feet and seemed -- he seemed to believe what he was saying, which is a big part of persuasion. i think you know, i mean when you hear numbers, it does get very confusing. i don't know what my taxes will be until i have my meeting with my accountant and they're hire than i expect. it's a confusing world. if you're clear and passionate and you know maybe it doesn't mat. >> mitt romney, last night, demonstrated the creed of politicians, and for that matter
anchor people, frequently in error but never in doubt. if you say it forcely, you don't doubt it no one else will doubt it it makes an impact. >> talking about the te testostero testosterone, using sports metaphors, no question mitt romney's in a zone. >> right. >> there is no question. but the president is now 14 hours after walking off the stage last night, he's holding his first post debate rally in denver sloane lake park. let's take a listen to the president. >> but it couldn't have been mitt romney because the real mitt romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts in favor of the wealthy, the fellow on stage last night said, he didn't know anything about that. the real mitt romney said we don't need any more teachers in our classrooms. but -- don't boo, vote.
but the fellow on stage last night, he -- he loves teachers. can't get enough of them. the mitt romney we all know invested in companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to other countries. but the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn't even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing. never heard of them. never heard of them. never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. he said, if it's true, he must need a new accountant. now we know for sure it was not the real mitt romney because he seem to be doing just fine with his current accountant.
so you see, the man on stage last night he does not want to be held accountable for the real mitt romney's decisions and what he's been saying for the last year. and that's because he knows full well that we don't want what he's been selling for the last year. so governor romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the american people the truth. so here's the truth. governor romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking to the middle class. that's the math. we can't afford to go down that road again. we can't afford another round of budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy. we can't afford to gut our
investments in education or clean energy or research and technology. we can't afford to roll back regulations on wall street. or on big oil companies or insurance companies. we cannot afford to double down on the same top-down economic policies that got nus this mess. that's not a plan to create jobs. that is not a plan to grow the economy. that's not change. that's a relapse. we don't want to go back there. we tried it. it didn't work. we are not going back. we are going forward. now i've got a different view about how we create jobs in prosperity. this country doesn't succeed when we only see the rich getting richer. we succeed when the middle class gets bigger. we grow our economy not from the top-down but from the middle-out. we don't believe that anybody's entitled to success in this
country but we do believe in something called opportunity. we believe in a country where hard work pays off and where responsibility's rewarded and everybody's getting a fair shot and everybody's doing their fair share and everybody plays by the same rules. that's the country we believe in. that's what i'm fighting for. that's why i'm running for a second term for president of the united states. and that's why i want your vote. >> that was president obama? sloanes lake park outside denver, colorado. governor rendell there are not a few people on the democratic side of the aisle that wish that you could have transposed the president obama we just saw on to the president obama we saw last night. >> interestingly, president obama said that wasn't really mitt romney that debated last because totally different positions. well, that really couldn't have been president obama on that stage last night because this is the president obama that we know
that's proud of what he does, believes with all of his heart that the tax plan that governor romney's pushing will destroy this country. none of that passion. none of the zingers. none of the come-backers were there. >> a combination of passion, upbeat, edge at the end. that issue of fairness, that's where i would have liked to see obama finish the debate last night, really get behind that. and it's the perfect issue for him against romney. it speaks to all of these other things out there without him trying to take it on directly, which he obviously doesn't feel comfortable doing right now. >> last night in the debate, we'd be talking about romney winning debate last night -- >> obama. >> i think speaking to masses is his forte. one-on-one debate he has to call upon skills of confrontation and engage at that level may not speak to his own belief about the humanity of my opponent and not being der riicive.
>> the president is competitive. he came off the stage. you see the spin his folks have been giving. they know they didn't have a good night. there's a sense of indignation in his voice. you bet the next time he shows up on stage with mitt romney he's got to -- >> governor rendell is right. reality is don't panic, prepare. he said don't boo, vote. president, don't rhetorically engage us. stand up on stage and tell us what your passion and beliefs are, why people are voting for you. that's the kind of significant fundamental reality, as dan rather said that was missing there. >> hugo's point great, too. on his closing, he promised he was going to work hard for us. george bush promised that in 2004 over and over again and it was a fiasco. people understand the president's going to work hard. but he should have said, i want a fairer america, an america where everyone benefits at same time. we can do it, folks, he should
have been upbeat and passionate. >> very good point about the dangers of incumbency. when you're an incumbent, and particularly when you're an incumbent president of the united states, people don't challenge you. if you start running your hands through the mashed potatoes at the dinner table, everybody else starts running their hands through the mashed potatoes. nobody challenges you. >> i don't think obama's unaccustomed to people opposing him in such a way because of the assault upon him in public, but i do think there's some comforts that come from having the stage to yourself and then having to share that stage with somebody else who is as vigorous in defensive in his ideal in opposition to your. >> he doesn't like sharing the stage with joe biden. >> i don't know about that. >> you read the story in "time" a couple of months ago. >> what dan said, go back to the best moment of his presidency in the first term, when he appeared before the republican house breakfast, remember? they invited him in.
and he made mince meat of them. and he did it in a smiley, upbeat manner but he was firm, and he destroyed them. >> he kept saying, i'm just saying. >> he's a morning person obviously. >> they will have the next debate at breakfast. >> what's the possibility, this was his anniversary, the president, that he celebrated the anniversary before he got on stage last night? maybe with a glass of champagne, whatever, celebrated. >> gladded you added -- >> i'm glad you qualified that. >> i knew one thing, i'm not -- >> alex is having trouble. >> i'm not having mashed potatoes for lunch, that's for sure. watch dan rather's live election night cov an on act is tv. a plav to haeasure to have you. the split screen says it all. can you tell who won the debate by turning off the sound? we'll evaluate the stage
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ally bank. your money needs an ally. there is no hiding from the split screen. throughout last night's debate, president obama seemed to for get he was on camera, standing down at his lectern, taking notes instead of looking directly at governor romney. t his performance blew up the performance. less looking down, making nodes you look like your hanging your head in shame, and more eye contact. look at mitt like he's a nut. here with a critique and debate for the next one, master thespian, james lipton. always a pleasure to have you on set. i'm eager to hear of what you made of both perform 's last night. but let's start with the president's? >> may i start with romney? >> go for it. >> roll right over alex.
>> whoa. >> the washington of romney rolled over the moderator last night? the thing about -- i came to first because i had writ ain't piece for the "new york" magazine, how to act human, giving romney advice. since then i've tried to pursue him, but that's not easy. he's elusive. >> yes. >> he keeps recasting himself, recasting himself. i've tried to flail it down. before last night's event i had come to the conclusion i finally had typecast him, because he can't play a character role, he's not a good enough actor. this is a conclusion i came to. that he is that boss who makes lame jokes at which we are compelled to laugh at peril of our jobs. >> yes. >> and -- >> i don't know any bosses like that. >> last night he more or less erased that image with the significant cooperation of the president, he presented a brand-new, as you said, and
different romney relishing the occasion, filled with facts, right or wrong, true or false, but filled with them, and delivered with great conviction and with energy. unfortunately for the democratic campaign, another president obama showed up. and this president was particularly visible and evident and revealing in the sprsplit s. split screens are dangerous. >> yes. >> you're thinking, you're waiting, somebody else is talking. and as others have described it, i won't belabor it, he looked down, away, he looked uncomfortable, sometimes he looked at the moderator, beseechingly as if to say, get to me, for god sake, because something's going wrong here. >> showing clips of mitt romney and the split screen looking at the president while he was speaking. did you find that to be an effective device? >> very effective.
look, since -- this is not politics but performance, when an actor is dealing with a partner on stage, that's when it's happening. a partner on the stage, two people on that stage, and romney dealt with his partner. he addressed the president. he spoke to the president. obama seemed significantly to avoid him while he was offscreen, while he was waiting to speak, and even when he spoke, he was speaking -- i don't know to whom he was speaking, maybe the audience or the moderator, but he was speaking offcamera, he had an opportunity to speak to the camera, which is to speak to us, or speak to romney, those are the only two people on that stage with him. those are his partners and he avoided them both studiously. what a beginner's mistake for a great politicians. >> yeah. you would see him pivot, the line of sight, he's shifting back from jim lehrer to the camera to mitt romney, hugo. >> i wanted to comment on
romney's split screen sort of expression, as obama was talking. i thought it was incredibly good. i was trying to read it. he has a frown, condescension in there, but it felt meaningful. and i was thinking, that's the expression you have when you're firing someone that you like. you want to go in and be like, you know, i really like you but you haven't libbed up to my expectations. >> which is what they're trying to channel. >> something that i would gather romney has personal experience in. so, it really -- very consistent. romney's expression was basically that throughout almost the entire debate, when obama was talking. >> the other thing, and this has been noted, a sense of happy warrior that romney was channelling and that you know, we've said the president seemed tired but he didn't want to have to go through this. i thought it was pronounced in the opening moments of the debate, i wonder what you thought, when the president started talking about michelle and their anniversary but it was romney who owned the joke.
let's play that sound. if we have it. maybe we don't have it. we don't have it. so, basically, romney says, obama comes on stage, says 20 years ago i became the luckiest man honor they because michelle obama agreed to marry me. happy anniversary. next year we won't be celebrating in front of 40 million people. mild chuckle. romney, congratulations mr. president on your anniversary. i'm sure this was the most place you could imagine here with me. it was a great line from romney, not known to be funny. >> from the start, i think he picked up. he was able to work than extraordinarily confident fashion. he came in against tight, as mr. lipton indicated he owned that moment, owned that stage. he wanted to own obama with all of those troubling consequences, and he did so, i think, because
he presumed that he would tell his facts, he would tell his truth, he would do it with vigor, and you can study every master, you connect emotionally, articulate your viewpoint and people believe in perception of your command. last night he was unquestioned in terms of his supremacy. >> that was significant. while romney was freely contradicting all of the previous romneys, he was unchallenged. unchallenged by the moderator. and unchallenged by the president. that, i thought, was extraordinary. i couldn't believe it. i kept waiting for the president to give answers that anyoneny one of us at this table and anyone watching the program could have given. they were obvious answers. >> including mitt romney. >> yes, yes, i agree. >> mr. lipton, going forward, what tact do you think the president needs to take? clearly there was a calculation he was not going to punch down, he needed to be above the fray
but everyone's calling for more passion, more of the indignation of half-truths put by mitt romney. >> in my world you can't invent passion. passion is something you poss s possess, the way ted kennedy possessed, great actors possess it. it's not something you can pretend. that was romney's problem before this debate last night. now, oddly enough, it's the president's problem. and i think most significantly the questions that obama did not ask, and the responses he failed to make, qualify for a wonderful french expression [ speaking french ] which means staircase wit. the great retort you think of as you left the party and on your way down the stairs, full of it last night. >> and the rally. >> reprice si. yes, but then it's late. there aren't 60 million people watching the rally. i think what obama absolutely has to do is to prepare himself
very carefully and to go after his opponent the way his opponent went after him. but romney is vulnerable. he said things last night that the world may or may not know are false. >> yes. >> and it's the job now, i think, of the democratic party and of the president to point that out, point it out continually, and to bring it to the front and the fore in the next debate and look at his opponent and to look at the american people and say, this is wrong and this is what is right. he's capable of that. >> and no more. [ speaking french ] >> what mr. lipton said is an important strategy. >> i'm keeping with the french thing. [ speaking french ] >> you know something? the -- there was an expression, john green leaf, the great poet said, for all sad words of
tongue and pen, the saddest are these, it might have been. that's what happened to the president of the united states and that's must not happen again. when i was writing plays, the most important moment of your play, the last two minutes before the audience goes out to intermission because that's all they'll remember. that is where, oddly enough, the president fumbled the ball most formbly and momentbly. >> indeed. >> he can't have. he shouldn't have. all of us are saying that. [ female announcer ] ready for a taste of what's hot? check out the latest collection of snacks from lean cuisine. creamy spinach artichoke dip, crispy garlic chicken spring rolls. they're this season's must-have accessory. lean cuisine. be culinary chic.
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